Game 103: Last Game Before The Trade Deadline


Take a good look at the Yankees roster. Chances are it’ll look a bit different next time they play a game. This afternoon’s series finale with the Rays is the Yankees’ final game before Monday afternoon’s trade deadline, and already they’ve have made one deal today. They picked up Jaime Garcia from the Twins for pitching prospects Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns. A new starter was very necessary and the Yankees landed one.

More important than the looming trade deadline right now is this afternoon’s game. The Yankees have won the first three games of this four-game series to increase their lead over the Rays from 1.5 games to 4.5 games. That’s huge. Creating some distance in the standings is always appreciated. The Yankees have won six straight games overall, so let’s take a seven-game winning streak into the deadline, shall we? Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. LF Clint Frazier
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 1B Chase Headley
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

Pretty much a perfect afternoon for baseball in the Bronx. There’s not a cloud in the sky and the high temperature is 82 degrees. Couldn’t ask for a better day to spend at the ballpark. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET and YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy the day and the game.

Roster Update: Earlier today the Yankees sent down Caleb Smith and called up Chasen Shreve, so they have a fresh arm in the bullpen and a lefty. I imagine Shreve will be sent down when Garcia reports, which will probably be tomorrow. Garcia, by the way, is tentatively scheduled to make his first start Thursday. The Yankees say they are not considering a six-man rotation at this time. Duh.

Injury Updates: Aaron Hicks (oblique) will begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton on Wednesday. He’s been taking full batting practice from both sides of the plate … Buster Olney says the Yankees believe Greg Bird (ankle) could be back by late-August. No offense to Bird, but I’m going to take the over on his rehab timetable. This seems like the Yankees posturing during trade talks for a first baseman more than anything.

2017 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Sunday

Gray. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Gray. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

It’s crunch time. The 2017 non-waiver trade deadline is only a day and a half away now, and already the Yankees have made two big trades and two small trades. They acquired Jaime Garcia from the Twins earlier this morning, in case you missed it. The Yankees have a new fifth starter, something they desperately needed.

On Friday and Saturday we learned the Yankees continue to discuss Sonny Gray with the Athletics, and both Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier are off the table. The two clubs are talking about other prospects now, so that’s good. We’re again going to keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here. Make sure you check back throughout the day. All timestamps are ET.

  • 11:53am: The Yankees and Athletics are “optimistic something can get done” with Gray. Other teams are involved, but the Yankees remain the favorites. [Heyman]
  • 11:23am: Depending who you ask, the Yankees either are or are not involved in the Yu Darvish bidding. I get the feeling they’re not involved, but the Rangers are looping them into the conversation to increase their leverage. [Buster Olney, T.R. Sullivan, Jeff Wilson]
  • 11:00am: The Yankees are still in the mix for another starter even after this morning’s Garcia trade, and Gray remains their top target. “Still could work but hard deal to make,” said one report. [Ken Rosenthal, Jeff Passan]
  • 11:00am: Beyond a starter, the Yankees also have some interest in a first baseman and a left-on-left matchup reliever. I don’t think that’s a big priority though. Their top bullpen righties can get out lefties. [Heyman]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Detailing Didi’s Dingers


There are few players in baseball who make it as easy to root for them as Didi Gregorius does. Rare is the time when he doesn’t have a smile on his face; his post-Aaron Judge home run antics with Ronald Torreyes are (almost) just as fun as the prodigious homers; his post-victory tweets are must-see material after a Yankee win. To top that all off, he’s become a great player on the field, having a career year after he just had one last year. Didi is on pace to post career highs in pretty much everything at the plate and has maintained great defense at short, even after missing the first month of the season.

A big part of Didi’s offensive emergence in the last two seasons has been the home run. Last year, he hit 20. This year, he’s already at 16 and all three projection systems at his FanGraphs page see him hitting seven more this year, which would leave him with 23, a new career high. This, like the rest of his game since arriving in the Bronx, really, is a justification for the trade that brought him here. He’s a lefty swinger who showed brief flashes of power in the minors and majors, which seems like a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium. For all the reasons listed above–both on-field and off–Didi’s proven that right.

For the last two years, Didi has had an average home run distance of 373 feet. This year, that is the fourth shortest homer distance among players with at least 190 batted ball events. Last year, that mark was in the bottom 10 of the league with the same qualifier. Using HitTracker, 14 of Didi’s home runs between 2016 and 2017 have been labeled as just enough or lucky. Didi’s ISO at home the last two years is .199, compared to .166 Those signs seem to point to a guy taking advantage of a short porch in his home field. However if we dive a little deeper, we see that isn’t quite the case.

Of the seven just enough/lucky homers of 2017, only two of them have taken place at Yankee Stadium. He had, similarly, seven just enough/lucky homers in 2016. Again, just two of them took place in Yankee Stadium. Since this power surge started last year, Didi has 36 home runs split evenly between home games and away games, 18 apiece. While there’s a bit of a power boost at home–as evidenced by the ISO difference–it’s only partially fueled by the home runs.

Whatever Didi has been doing the last two years is working. He’s emerged as a top shortstop in the American League and that has made the trade to bring him here look more and more like a great steal with each passing day. A player like him is an absolute blessing to have on the team and I look forward to rooting for him for the rest of his time in pinstripes, which is hopefully a long, long time.

Yankees acquire Jaime Garcia from Twins for Littell, Enns

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

9:34am ET: The Yankees have announced the trade, so it’s a done deal. Officially official. The press release says the deal happened last night. Anyway, the trade is as reported. Garcia and cash for Littell and Enns.

8:56am ET: The Yankees have landed their new fifth starter. Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman report the Yankees have an agreement in place to acquire lefty Jaime Garcia from the Twins for pitching prospects Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns. Littell was scratched from his scheduled Double-A start last night, which was a pretty good indication something was up. Mark Feinsand says the Twins will eat a big chunk of the remainder of Garcia’s $12M salary. The Yankees are only responsible for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum.

Interestingly enough, both Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Passan say the Garcia trade does not end the pursuit of Sonny Gray. The Yankees still want him, though now they don’t need to pursue him with as much urgency. Garcia has some bullpen experience and even though they’ve yet to admit it, the Yankees are going to have to watch Luis Severino‘s and Jordan Montgomery‘s workloads down the stretch. Getting two starters would make that much easier.

Garcia, 31, was just traded from the Braves to the Twins last week. Minnesota has lost four of their five games since the trade to continue to slip out of the postseason race, so they decided to flip the rental Garcia. That doesn’t happen too often. Garcia allowed three runs in 6.2 innings in his one start with the Twins on Friday. He has a 4.29 ERA (4.04 FIP) in 19 starts and 119.2 total innings this year. Here’s my Scouting The Market post on Garcia.

The 21-year-old Littell came over from the Mariners in the James Pazos trade last year. He has a 1.87 ERA (2.87 FIP) overall this season, including a 2.05 ERA (2.31 FIP) in seven starts and 44 innings with Double-A Trenton. The numbers are undeniably great. Littell is a command pitcher without blow-you-away stuff and the consensus is he’s a future back-end starter, and hey, that’s not nothing. You’d rather develop your own fifth starter than pay $10M for one in free agency.

Enns, 26, has a 2.29 ERA (2.73 FIP) in 39.1 Triple-A innings this season. He missed more than two months with a shoulder strain. Enns has been unreal since coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2015, throwing 239 total innings with a 1.51 ERA (2.92 FIP). Enns is another command pitcher, though he’s several years older than Littell and has an injury history. Littell ranked 29th in my lasted prospect rankings. Enns was unranked.

Last week the Twins traded righty 19-year-old rookie ball right-hander Huascar Ynoa to get Garcia from the Braves. He’s having a poor year statistically (5.26 ERA and 4.40 FIP in 25.2 innings) though he offers power stuff and is a similarly ranked prospect as Littell. A back-end of a team’s top 30 list prospect. Ynoa offers more ceiling and Littell more probability. That’s a very Twins thing to do. Trade ceiling for probability. Enns is pretty much a throw in.

It’s also worth nothing there are 40-man roster considerations here. Littell will be Rule 5 Draft eligible this coming offseason and he would have been very much on the 40-man roster bubble for the Yankees. I think they would have found a way to squeeze him onto the roster, though it wasn’t a lock. Also, the Yankees were going to have to clear a 40-man spot for Garcia, and Enns figured to be near the front of the DFA line.

The Yankees desperately needed a new fifth starter in the wake of Michael Pineda‘s elbow injury — heck, you could argue they needed another starter even before Pineda got hurt — and now they have one in Garcia. Ground ball heavy lefties are always good to have in Yankee Stadium. If the Yankees can manage to reel in Gray in addition to Garcia, suddenly the rotation looks mighty strong the rest of the way. Getting one starter was crucial though, and the Yankees have done that.

Scouting the Trade Market: Scott Feldman

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Starting pitching is the Yankees most obvious need at the moment, and they have given every indication that they will be buyers in the coming days. With Sonny Gray as the only true game-changing pitcher on the market, the focus has shifted somewhat to innings eaters.

Enter Scott Feldman.

It is worth noting, above all else, that Feldman is currently on the disabled list with a right knee injury. He’s eligible to return on August 2, though, and he threw a bullpen session last week; the expectation is that he will be activated as soon as possible. It is the Yankees dire need for a starting pitcher that has us looking at someone that isn’t full healthy at the moment – though, it isn’t unprecedented for a team in the midst of a playoff race to trade for someone on the DL.

Current Performance

Feldman spent 2016 pitching primarily out of the bullpen. He made forty appearances (five starts) for the Astros and Blue Jays, pitching to a 3.97 ERA (100 ERA+) in 77.0 IP. That was the first full-season that he spent in the bullpen since 2007, though, so the Reds brought him on-board to fill-out their rotation on a cheap one-year deal ($2.3 MM).

Despite his injury, Feldman has done more than provide a warm body in the Reds beleaguered rotation. The 34-year-old has pitched to the following line this year: 19 GS, 103.2 IP, 102 H, 34 BB, 86 K, 4.34 ERA (103 ERA+). He has pitched into the 7th inning in 8 of his starts, and was averaging just shy of 6 IP per start before he left his last start early due to the aforementioned injury.

Feldman’s strikeout (19.8%), walk (7.8%), and groundball (43.8%) rates are right around league-average, which is something of a turnaround for him. In years past, his walk and groundball rates were well above-average, while his strikeout rates were subpar. He has had success both ways, so it may not something to be terribly concerned with – but it’s something to keep in mind.

A potential issue is that Feldman’s platoon splits have been a bit start this year – he has held RHH to a .317 wOBA, but lefties have hit .266/.338/.464 (.342 wOBA) against him; he had similar issues in 2016, though that came in the bullpen and in a much smaller sample size. That’s not a good sign for someone that could be making half of his starts in Yankee Stadium. However, that does come in stark contrast to the rest of his career, as Feldman has a slight reverse platoon split (.322 wOBA vs. LHH, .329 vs. RHH) for his career.

Current Stuff

Feldman is essentially a three-pitch pitcher, with nearly 95% of his offerings coming in the form of his sinker, cutter, and curveball. He has never been a particularly hard-thrower, and his velocity has remained steadily around the low-90s for the better part of a decade. You can see his current velocity below:


The dip in velocity in late-June into July has been attributed to his wonky knee, which is understandable; he was throwing 85 MPH sinkers in his last start prior to being pulled. Feldman is probably something of a junk-baller, to be sure, but he isn’t a soft-tosser, and all of his pitches move. Hopefully, the drop in velocity is due to his aching knee, and nothing else.

Feldman’s best pitch is his curveball, which has generated a 12% whiff rate, and sports a paltry .138 BAA. He locates it quite well, too, burying it at or below the bottom of the strikezone, and generating both swing-and-misses and weak contact. You can see that here:



Injury History

Feldman’s injury history is magnified due to his current injury, which is a bit more foreboding than the usual knee injury would suggest. He needed microfracture surgery for an injury to the same knee back in 2011, and he missed over 100 games as a result. There has been no indication that this current injury is related in any way, or that its severity could have been exacerbated as a result of the prior surgery – but it’s something that happened, and it’s the same body part.

Arm-wise, Feldman has been mostly healthy since having Tommy John Surgery back in 2003. He missed three starts in 2014 with biceps tendinitis, but that’s about it.

Contract Status

Feldman will be a free agent after this year, and is owed around $1 MM for the remainder of the season.

What Would It Take?

Mike laid out the expected cost for an average-ish rental when he discussed Jaime Garcia, and that’s worth checking out. The short version is a solid prospect or two, but nothing that’ll leave the fans up in arms.

That being said, Feldman is a special case due to his injury issue. There are already rumors swirling that he’ll end up being dealt before the waiver trade deadline instead, as teams wait for him to get healthy and prove that he can still contribute. Were the Yankees (or another team) to pounce now, throwing a bit of caution to the wind, the price would ostensibly be lower. Whether or not the Reds would make the deal now is another question entirely.

Does He Make Sense for the Yankees?

Scott Feldman is a risk, and there’s no way to argue otherwise. He’s hurt, and will still be on the DL when the deadline comes and goes. The Dodgers took that risk with Rich Hill last year, and it was both good and bad – he wasn’t able to pitch for his first three weeks in the organization, but when he did, he was awesome. Feldman is not Hill, of course, but that is the sort of risk vs. reward analysis that has to be weighed.

Given his injury, I suspect that Feldman could be had for quite cheap right now; and, given the record of returns for similarly-skilled healthy pitchers, I don’t think he would’ve cost all that much to begin with. So what we have is a pitcher that has a track record of eating innings at a league-average-ish rate with a bit more risk than usual. And I think that risk is worth taking.

The Yankees may have to deal with innings limits for Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino, and their fifth starter is currently the personification of a shrug. Feldman offers insurance for those three spots, potentially, and shouldn’t cost all that much. Moreover, given his recent experience as a swingman/long-reliever, his acquisition could be made in conjunction with another trade, with Feldman transitioning back into the bullpen unless (or until) a need arises.

Feldman’s injury cannot be ignored, but if the cost is as low as history suggests, it’s a risk that’s well worth taking – I’d just hope that it went hand-in-hand with another acquisition.

DotF: Four Staten Island pitchers combine for no-hitter

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 win over Charlotte)

  • LF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 BB, 1 CS
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K — five homers in his last 12 games now
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K — left the game the inning after being hit by the pitch … he did stay in to run the bases … they were probably being cautious in the blowout game
  • RF Billy McKinney: 3-4, 3 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — 12 homers sets a new career high … he hit eleven back in 2014 and eleven total from 2015-16
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI
  • RHP Domingo German: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 7/4 GB/FB — 49 of 76 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 21 of 31 pitches were strikes (68%) … 29/7 K/BB in 24.1 innings back from Tommy John surgery … I wonder if he’ll find himself back on the 40-man roster this winter … he was non-tendered last year, which means he’ll automatically become a minor league free agent after each season
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — nine of 13 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Yankees 5, Rays 4: Another Gardner walk-off gives Yankees sixth straight win

Can’t stop won’t stop. The Yankees won their sixth straight game Saturday, this time erasing three separate Tampa Bay leads to earn a 5-4 walk-off win over the Rays. Two walk-offs in three days. I like it. That’s six straight wins and eight wins in the last nine games.


Three-Plus & Fly
In all likelihood this was Caleb Smith‘s last start for a while, and that’s good, because the Yankees can’t keep running him out there hoping he makes it through five inning and being satisfied if he makes it through four. He’s yet to do that in either of his two starts. Smith lasted three innings plus one out Saturday, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks. I know the kid has been in a show for like ten minutes, but getting this little length every fifth day can’t last.

Smith put the Yankees in a quick 1-0 hole two pitches in the game thanks to a Peter Bourjos solo homer. Peter Bourjos! He’s hit five home runs this season and two have come against the Yankees. The Rays scored their second run in the third inning with a pretty weak rally. Jesus Sucre singled to center, Steven Souza Jr. reached on an infield single that hit a leaping Didi Gregorius in the glove, and Evan Longoria drew a walk. A long Lucas Duda sac fly scored the run. Smith escaped further damage thanks to a great barehand play by Todd Frazier at third.

Through two starts and one relief appearance Smith has allowed eight runs and 17 baserunners in ten innings, and that ain’t good. The second time through the order continues to be a problem. Smith has a lively arm, so it would be silly to write him off, but at this point the Yankees need someone better to take the ball every fifth day. Given where the team is in the standings and their resources (money and prospects), odds are the Yankees will get someone better before Monday’s trade deadline.


Three Rallies
Three times the Yankees came from behind Saturday. The Bourjos solo homer was answered by a Gregorius sac fly in the second inning. Gary Sanchez got a good luck ground ball double — it blooped juuust inside the right field line — and moved to third on Matt Holliday‘s ground ball to set Didi up for the sac fly. The Duda sac fly was answered with a Sanchez solo homer in the fourth. From 1-0 to 1-1 to 2-1 to 2-2. All tied.

The Rays took their third lead of the game in the fifth inning, when Souza managed to keep a high fly ball just fair for a solo home run against Adam Warren. It was about four seats fair and two rows deep. Not a majestic blast at all. A solo homer is a solo homer though, and that solo homer gave Tampa a 3-2 lead. The teams alternated one run in each of the first five innings. It made for a neat little line score early on.


It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the Yankees took their first lead of the game. Blake Snell has pretty nasty stuff and he did a good job getting New York to chase fastballs upstairs, breaking balls in the dirt, and changeups away. He allowed a hard-hit single to Holliday to start the sixth — it would have been a double for even an average runner — and popped up Gregorius for the first out to end his afternoon.

Rays skipper Kevin Cash went to righty slider machine Sergio Romo against righty Garrett Cooper, who Joe Girardi immediately lifted for pinch-hitter Chase Headley. Righties against Romo this season: .235/.293/.512 (.334 wOBA). Lefties against Romo this season: .316/.458/.526 (.412 wOBA). Pinch-hitting was an oh so obvious move, and it couldn’t have worked out better. Headley smacked a go-ahead two-run home run. Opposite field!

As good as Headley has been the last few weeks, he has not been hitting for power at all, which is especially crummy because pretty much everyone can hit for power in 2017. Saturday’s home run was Headley’s first since June 13th, the middle game of the three-game series in Anaheim. He’d hit one (1) home run in his previous 317 plate appearances coming into the game. Good gravy. The timely home run gave New York a 4-3 lead.


Asking Too Much From The Bullpen
An effective but hardly dominant day for the bullpen. Warren was the first reliever used and he allowed just the Souza homer in his 1.2 innings. He handed the ball to Dellin Betances for the sixth. Yes, Dellin in the sixth. Has he been demoted? My guess is no. Girardi was using him against the 4-5-6 hitters with the Yankees down a run. I like it. Betances walked Duda, the first batter he faced, on four pitches because of course. He retired the next three hitters with ease though.

With Dellin throwing the sixth, Tommy Kahnle came in for the seventh, and he looked human for the first time as a Yankee. Mallex Smith singled back up the middle and pinch-hitter Logan Morrison singled to right, giving the Rays runners on the corners with one out. The Yankees were up 4-3 at the time. Kahnle escaped that jam with a strikeout (Souza) and a foul pop-up (Longoria). Things got a little hairy there for a second, but the lead was preserved.

David Robertson handled the eighth inning and he hung the hell out of curveball to Duda, who swatted it off the facing of the right field upper deck for his second home run in two games with the Rays. The solo homer tied the game 4-4. That’s a shame. Robertson got through the rest of the inning unscathed, which set up Aroldis Chapman for the ninth, and once again, the Rays threatened. They had baserunner in every inning against the bullpen.

Souza was on first base with two outs in the ninth inning when Chapman picked him off. Had him caught between first and second. Headley’s throw to second was a little off line, forcing Gregorius to reach out, then swipe behind his back for the tag. His arm hit the sliding Souza right in the chest and knocked the ball loose. No only was the out not recorded, but Souza was able to scamper to third. Fortunately Longoria fouled out to end the inning.

The bullpen: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Pretty good, but not dominant. Warren allowed the Rays to take the lead and Robertson allowed them to tie it. The Yankees can’t keep asking these guys for this much length every five days though. It worked in Smith’s previous start — they had the benefit of an off-day the next day that time — and it worked in this game. Hopefully this is the end of it.


Walked Off
The game-winning rally in the ninth could not have been any more gift-wrapped. All the Rays needed to do was put a bow on it. Brad Boxberger faced three batters and all three reached base while hitting the ball a combined 70 feet or so. Headley drew a leadoff walk and was immediately replaced by pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury, who stole second. Didn’t matter though. Frazier took a pitch to the ribs as the next batter.

Ronald Torreyes, very predictably, squared around to bunt with two on and no outs. We all knew it was coming and that was 100% the right play. I say that as an anti-bunt guy. You only need one run in that situation to win the game. Torreyes laid the bunt down and … Boxberger ran around it. Everyone was safe. It was very weird. Between that and the Tim Beckham-Adeiny Hechavarria screw up on Sanchez’s game-tying single the other night, I’d be pretty aggravated if I were a Rays fan. Just sloppy, sloppy play.

With the bases loaded and no outs, all Brett Gardner had to was get a ball to the medium deep outfield to score Ellsbury from third. He did one better and singled up the middle to win the game. Brett’s second walk-off hit in three days. Each of his last three walk-off hits have come against the Rays. That hit also extended his hitting streak to eleven games. He’s 16-for-48 (.333) with two doubles, one triple, and four homers in those eleven games. Yup.


No contact day for Aaron Judge, who went 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts. He’s gone 9-for-53 (.170) with 21 strikeouts in 15 games since the All-Star break. I’m not worried though. He’ll figure it out, hopefully soon. Clint Frazier went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Pretty wild that Frazier and Judge did nothing, and the Yankees still had a young stud slugger swat a double and a homer (Sanchez).

Two hits each for Sanchez, Holliday, and Torreyes. Holliday’s sixth inning single, the would-be double for a good runner, was easily his hardest hit ball in a while. It was the first ball he hit out of the infield since Tuesday. His first single was a ground ball with eyes. The Yankees really need Holliday to right the ship. With any luck, Saturday’s game will help build some confidence going forward.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and for the video highlights. FanGraphs has the bullpen workload information until I get my Google sign-in issues solved. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees will go for the four-game sweep Sunday afternoon. That’s another 1pm ET start. Rookies Jordan Montgomery and Jacob Faria will be on the mound. Want to catch the series finale live? Check out RAB Tickets.